2021 Big 12 Accolades for Baylor Football

Defensive accolades
Offensive accolades
Conference accolades for Baylor
Photo credit: Baylor Athletics

Following the completion of the 2019 CFB season, I wrote about how Baylor had one of the most miraculous transformations after going from 1-11 to 7-6 and finally 11-1 within former head coach Matt Rhule’s tenure. At that time it seemed like the Bears were literally as good as they were going to get with many players earning Big 12 accolades at the closure of the regular season. And despite the amazing successes of Rhule’s team two years ago, this 2021 team feels extraordinarily special under head coach Dave Aranda. Within two seasons of Aranda’s leadership, No. 9 Baylor went from 2-7 to 10-2 and is back in the conference title race with a rematch against No. 5 Oklahoma State scheduled in two days. The Bears have had their ups and downs this season, but this group feels destined for greatness—maybe even more so than the 2019 squad. This round of post-regular season Big 12 accolades featured an increased number of Bears honored with some of the most beloved by Baylor Nation earning top remarks in the All-Big 12 awards!

To Baylor Nation’s absolute delight, senior S Jalen Pitre—star 2017 recruit who stayed when everyone else decommitted—earned Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors after leading the league with 63 tackles with 15.5 for a loss of 58 yards, 2.5 sacks for a loss of 22 yards, 3 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries returned 10 yards, 2 interceptions returned 20 yards, 5 pass break ups, and 3 QB hurries. According to my favorite grampa Jerry Hill, “He joins James Lynch (2019) and Andrew Billings (2015) as the only Bears to be named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.” Sophomore DT Siaki Ika was named Defensive Newcomer of the Year for Baylor’s first honor ever, recording 15 tackles with 3.5 for a loss of 23 yards, 3.5 sacks for a loss of 23 yards, 1 pass break up, and 4 QB hurries. Senior LT Connor Galvin has had a pivotal impact on the improvement of Baylor’s O-Line who went from averaging 90.3 rushing yards per game in 2020 to 227.4 yards per game this year, making him the Offensive Lineman of the Year. Senior RB Trestan Ebner notched the final individual award as the Special Teams Player of the Year for his second consecutive honor (he was STPOY last year as well). On solely special teams (when he’s not tearing defenses up as a RB and WR hybrid), Ebner had 471 yards and 1 TD on kick returns with the score coming from a 98-yard return and 132 yards on punt returns.

Many other Bears earned All-Big 12 accolades with senior LB Terrel Bernard and Pitre being named to the First Team Defense and Ika on the Second Team. Some of the defensive players who earned Honorable Mentions were junior LB Dillon Doyle, sophomore DL TJ Franklin, senior DL Cole Maxwell, senior S Christian Morgan, and senior S JT Woods (who should’ve definitely been on either First or Second team). Ebner and Galvin earned spots on the Offense All-Big 12 First Team and senior RB Abram Smith (absolutely absolutely should’ve been First Team) and senior WR Tyquan Thornton were named to the Second Team. Honorable Mentions included junior QB Gerry Bohanon, senior OL Jacob Gall, senior OL Xavier Newman-Johnson, junior TE Ben Sims, and senior WR R.J. Sneed. Ika earned votes for Defensive Lineman of the Year, Gall had some for Offensive Newcomer of the Year, and Smith nabbed votes for Offensive Player of the Year. Congratulations to all of the Bears and Dave Aranda should’ve been Coach of the Year by a landslide!

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